Summer Project – Task 1 (Internship at South Hill Park Arts Centre)
For the first task of our summer project we were asked to complete a week’s internship in the industry, so as to gain experience this could be at a gallery, a museum, working with artists etc. I did a bit of research of galleries and similar places near me. There is an art centre called South Hill Park near to me where I used to do courses when I was younger, I remember that those courses where taught by artists in residence and that there were multiple exhibitions of their work and the work of other local artists. So I contacted the art centre and they put me in contact with the Head of Visual Arts, Kate Ratcliffe, I hoped that I could do some work experience with them, helping with exhibitions, learning about the curating of an exhibition and maybe even talk to a few of the resident artists. I emailed Kate my interest and she emailed back asking if I would like to help with the setup of an exhibition in collaboration with 20 local schools and Bracknell Forest Council. At first I was hesitant, as this was not the type of exhibition I had in mind but I figured that it was a starting point and that I could learn a lot from the experience regardless of the type of art I would be hanging.
My role in the installation of this exhibition was primarily holding up painting whilst Roger the technician screwed them into the wall, however I was given the opportunity to help decide on the hang, (which painting went where) and was the printing and sticking of labels. Which seems like a trivial thing but I noticed what a difference good labels made, the labels were printed onto see through plastic, they looked very neat and professional, however they had to be stuck on straight and in the same place under each painting otherwise it was very noticeable. So we created a template for this.
The majority of the paintings where landscape A1 which made the hang relatively easy we just had to worry about was the clashing colours and subject matter of the individual paintings. The paintings had to be divided up into the different key stages and assigned a room in the gallery dependent on the volume of work. In each section there were always one or two “difficult” paintings that clashed with the other for various reasons whether it was size, orientation, colours or subject matter. The brief for the exhibition was for each artist to create a piece of work in repose to one of 10 pieces of music including the likes of Handel’s “Zadock the Priest” and Stravinsky’s “The Firebird”, this meant there were a few core subjects that needed to be separated when hung so as not to have concentrated chunks of any subject or colour. The best way of deciding on the hang was to get all the paintings into the room and place them against the wall and try out different combinations, I found that grouping them in twos or fours was a good starting point as due to the number of submissions we had to double hang the landscape paintings.
This method worked really well in the more quiet areas of the gallery but certain areas had quite a lot of traffic, two of the gallery spaces were surrounding the café so not only were we limited with space we were also restricted to certain times we could work there (not during lunch or dinner hours). So for these spaces we decided loosely on the hang before entering the space and then hung it. The only problem with this method is that sometimes you cannot see if it will work until its up on the wall so once it was all hung we had to make a few adjustments.
Some of the paintings were smaller framed pieces which we grouped together in a salon hang. Deciding on the salon hang was interesting I learnt that you had to be patient with it, they can take hours of moving about and trying different combinations to get it just right, however time is a luxury and we simply did not have enough time to fiddle with the placement of the paintings so a compromise has to be made. We set ourselves a time limit in which we would decide on the hang of each room and hang it. If we had any time left after we could adjust it slightly. I did not realise how many little finishing jobs there where to do after everything was hung, filling and painting walls from adjusted positioning, labels, polishing and dusting the frames, sweeping the floor from the drill dust, painting the mirror plates on each painting white to match the wall.
I think that I made an impact during my work experience, Roger and Kate both said it was really helpful to have an extra pair of hands, and it meant that we completed the hang a day ahead of schedule. I was surprised at how much they asked for my opinion and went with it. When I left I said that if they need my help with any other exhibitions I was happy to volunteer. I really enjoyed the experience and though that I could learn more from other exhibitions especially one that involved the installation of sculptures. My help must have been useful to them because Kate emailed me not long after offering me a paid job helping with upcoming exhibitions that fit with my schedule. Since then I have helped with the take down and wrapping of the last exhibition and the installation of another exhibition the “student open,” which included a variety of work from stain glass, and pottery to life drawing and printmaking. The same principles from the first exhibition still applied but the hang was more complicated because to included various shaped and sized frames as well as 3D pieces.